By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – One of the most popular fundraisers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is back for the 14th year – with a new twist.
The Alpha Phi sorority will host its Red Dress Poker Tournament on March 7 at the Health and Sports Center. In addition to the usual Texas Hold ’em competition, this year’s event will also feature four-player, 10-point pitch.
“By adding pitch, we think more college students will be interested in attending,” said Erica Whipple, an Alpha Phi member who chairs the fundraiser’s organizing committee. “Right now we get a lot of college students with poker, but not as many as we would like to see at the event.”
The Red Dress Poker Tournament, which is open to the public, typically draws around 200 participants – a healthy mix of UNK students and community members playing for bragging rights and prizes or just for fun.
“Having an event like this is pretty unique, especially in the Kearney community,” said Whipple, an avid card player and sophomore business administration major from North Platte. “It shows that not only is UNK involved with the community, the community is also very involved with college life.”
Poker registration begins at 4:30 p.m. March 7, with the tournament kicking off at 5 p.m. Pitch registration is set for 5:30 p.m., followed by the tournament at 6 p.m. The entry fee is $12 per person for poker and $8 for pitch.
Tickets can be purchased in advance from any Alpha Phi member or at tables set up inside the Nebraskan Student Union and Health and Sports Center. The sorority will be selling tickets 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday (March 1) at the student union and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 4-7 at the Health and Sports Center. Tickets are also available at the event, but the cost increases to $15 for poker and $10 for pitch.
This year’s prizes include an Apple Watch and Blu-ray player, along with a variety of gift cards donated by area businesses. Prizes will also be handed out through a raffle, with tickets available for $2 each or three for $5.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Alpha Phi Foundation, which supports women’s heart health education and research. Last year’s tournament raised about $9,000 for the cause.
Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., causing 1 in 3 deaths, according to the American Heart Association.
“When you think about all the women in your life, that’s a really big impact,” Whipple said.